In with the Old... Out with the New

Inexpensive Chicago Townhouse Kitchen Remodel

Are you contemplating doing to a kitchen renovation?  Maybe you can’t decide if you should bomb it out or just make some cosmetic changes?  Read on to find out how we transformed our kitchen for under $1,000!  We took on all this work ourselves which obviously saved a lot of cost in labor.  Along with cost savings it was actually a fun way for my husband and I to spend time together… and learn a few things in the process.

Cabinet Painting – $200

When we purchased our Chicago Townhouse I knew immediately that the blonde maple kitchen cabinets had to go.  I started to search around for new cabinet doors only because I didn’t like the arched style at the upper cabinets.  After a lot of browsing I realized that it was going to cost about $5,000 for the shaker style doors mostly made of MDF.  This cost didn’t seem worth it to give up our high quality maple doors that surely would not warp after a few steamy pasta baths!  Painting was the answer but the big question was how to do it?  My husband and I had no previous experience painting cabinets.  The largest part I played in painting the cabinet doors was prepping the area for my husband.  He, thankfully, took it from there and did an amazing job.  While we didn’t follow his journey of how-to-painting, there are so many great DIY blogs out there that get very detailed.  Pick the one that best suits you and seems easiest to follow.  I can tell you from what I witnessed the most important step is the prep work of cleaning and sanding the doors.


Cabinet Hardware – $25

There are loads of pretty and trendy cabinet hardware out there that you could spend hundreds of dollars on.  We had a lot of cabinet doors so the cost would certainly add up fast. I turned to my favorite hardware source, eBay.  There are some great and inexpensive options.  If you want to keep it timeless just stick with a knob in either stainless or a brass and with a finish of your choice (shiny, brushed).  I opted for a classic egg shape knob in a brushed brass for $1 each.

Microwave Removal and Range Hood Addition – $90

You can pretty much tell any kitchen in Chicago that was built in the past 15 years because the developer placed a large microwave over the range.  While I understand the use of space, I didn’t want the focal point in the kitchen to be a big shiny box that says I heat up more food than I cook!  It was a simple DIY project to remove the microwave and install a new vent hood.  We also added a sheet of stainless steel backsplash and a tiny stainless steel shelf to hold spices used on the daily.  A bonus to this project was that we were able to sell the microwave on Craigslist for $75 to contribute to the purchase of our new microwave.

New Microwave Center – $250

We still needed a microwave and I didn’t want it to sit on the counter so I figured on the best place to put it where a plug was available.  I was able to frame out the cabinet to fit the microwave (and a few cookbooks!) and purchase new arched doors in a custom size.

Lighting – $500

One place you should not skimp on is lighting in the kitchen.  Its important to make sure you have task lighting (track lighting does a great job if you do not have recessed).  We were not going to spend money putting in recessed lights but I really wanted the black track lights to disappear so we switched it out to white.  Again, I turned to eBay as I really wanted to put a high end light fixture over the kitchen island.  I was able to source a Visual Comfort 3 pendant light for $300 (typically retails for $750).

Details –

What really makes your kitchen stand out is adding in some personality.  I love the whole “un-kitchen” or modern kitchen approach that is currently trending.  But the reality is bare kitchen countertops is sort of scary (is it really possible to not have a coffee maker!?). If you actually use your kitchen, make the items you have out as pretty as possible!


Main Cabinets – Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in White Dove with a Satin Sheen Finish

Kitchen Island – Farrow and Ball in Hague Blue for Interior Wood and Metal with a Eggshell Finish

Range Hood – Broan QML30SS

Microwave – GE Countertop Microwave

Custom Maple Cabinet Doors with Arch – Cabinets Now

Kitchen Island Light – Visual Comfort Bryant Linear Suspension by Thomas O’Brien

Kitchen Track Lighting – Lightolier


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